Hey Consumers, Why The Lack Of Confidence?

While shoppers continued to spend more this holiday season, the latest consumer confidence survey claims that we all remain in the same non-optimistic funk we were in this time last year.

While Reuters had predicted a slight uptick in the Consumer Confidence Index from November to December, the numbers from the Conference Board’s monthly study were actually down, from 54.3 to 52.5.

Some of the stats that contributed to the dip include a full 1% drop in the number of people claiming that business conditions are “good,” a .4% decrease in respondents who believe that jobs are “plentiful,” and a .5% jump among those stating that jobs are “hard to get.”

One slightly positive stat: A slim .3% drop in people claiming that business conditions are “bad.”

Says the Director of the Consumer Research Center at The Conference Board:

Despite this month’s modest decline, consumer confidence is no worse off today than it was a year ago. Consumers’ assessment of the current state of the economy and labor market remains tepid, and their outlook remains cautious. Thus, all signs continue to suggest that the economic expansion will continue well into 2011, but that the pace of growth will remain moderate.

How confident are you in the economy? Do you feel any more secure in your job than you did a year ago? And if you’re not working, do you think your chances of getting a job in the foreseeable future are improving?

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® Dips in December [Conference-board.org]

Consumer confidence unexpectedly falls in Dec. [Reuters]

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  1. samonela says:

    How confident are you in the economy? Do you feel any more secure in your job than you did a year ago? And if you’re not working, do you think your chances of getting a job in the foreseeable future are improving?

    Not very.

    Some jobs can be on the block every year regardless of the economic climate.

    Unemployment measurement (IMO) is completely under reported.

  2. Bativac says:

    My job sucks, they announced a 15 to 20% pay cut right before Christmas, and I am afraid us long-timers (and I’m only 31!!!!!) are on the verge of being replaced by cheap labor (i.e. recent college grads).

    I’m quitting this year come hell or high water. I am not super confident in the economy but yards still need to be mowed, right? Kids birthday parties still need entertainment, don’t they?

    I just can’t take much more of my employer taking advantage of a lousy job market to continually screw us.

    • dolemite says:

      I’m with ya buddy. I told the wife we need to pay down debt and put as much as possible into savings. I said I’d hang on as long as possible, but that I’m either getting fired or quitting in the next 1-2 years (probably). Each year benefits/pay get cut more and more, but stress goes up, and the work hours have gone up about 5 more hours a week. (We used to average around 42 a week as salary, but now it’s closer to 47-50).

      • Bativac says:

        No kidding about the stress and the work hours. With the pay cut comes actual overtime pay, which management has tried to spin as a benefit – now you guys will get the chance to work more, to earn the same money as before! (Note: no overtime is planned as of this time.)

        My wife thinks I should jump ship ASAP. We’re paying down debt and socking away money like there’s no tomorrow. As my dad said, there’s a point where you either stay on the boat and keep rearranging the deck chairs, or leap over the railing and hope you land in a raft.

    • nova3930 says:

      Its the “greatest thing ever” and the “way the world is supposed to work” when unemployment is low and qualified workers are scarce, forcing companies to pay higher wages and/or take whoever they can get to fill the ranks. Workers sure aren’t “screwing” companies then.

      Then when the economic corrections hit and the proverbial shoe is on the other foot its “workers getting screwed.”

      Sorry buddy, labor is a commodity, and right now there’s too much of it for the work that needs to be done. Excess supply means the price is going to go down. Don’t bitch about being on the losing end of supply and demand when you’re more than happy to take advantage of the winning end when conditions warrant….

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        FACT:
        Even when things were good, workers got screwed.

        I don’t know anyone in the working class whose wages have kept up with or exceeded inflation.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          LOL your new avatar looks more snively.

        • AnthonyC says:

          Domestically or globally?
          Domestically, you’re absolutely right.
          Globally, not true at all.

          I make no comment on whether this is a good or bad thing, but I suspect working class pay is unlikely to improve much until pay in China and India begins to approach US levels.

          • LadyTL says:

            I doubt it. All the outsourcing companies will do is move to the next country that hasn’t quite caught up to the US and Europe.

      • Bativac says:

        What? I don’t understand. If I prefer to take advantage of things when they are in my favor, does it not then follow that I am going to bitch about it when they are no longer in my favor? What a stupid comment.

        “Sorry buddy, labor is a commodity, and right now there’s too much of it for the work that needs to be done. Excess supply means the price is going to go down.” Hey thanks for the crash course in economics. As a 31 year old college graduate who has been out of mommy and daddy’s house for well over a decade paying taxes and working in both the public and private sector, I had no idea how supply and demand works.

        Jackass.

      • ARP says:

        So during the good times, the rich were taking it on on the chin? Not at all. No, workers are continually screwed. Its just during good times, they’re screwed slightly less.

    • TasteyCat says:

      Heard this a year ago from every single person I work with. Not a single one of them quit, nor do any of them appear as if they will quit.

  3. urger says:

    Hey economy, why the lack of jobs?

  4. Angus99 says:

    The company I’m leaving is planning to do the same thing it’s done for the last five years – move jobs to India, reduce staff, and continue to overpay executives.

  5. dolemite says:

    With so many people looking for jobs and looking to work for low $, I don’t feel so secure in my job. Sure, I do a good job, even if I am unhappy with the longer hours, reduced pay, etc…but there is always a new batch of college graduates right around the corner that would probably be willing to do my job for 25-40% less. And since I’ve been here 8+ years, all of my skills that would be needed to get a new job are basically out of date.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Can you take classes to get new skills?

      • dolemite says:

        Yeah, and I’ve thought about it, but I’m ready for a whole new career, so I’d probably need a year or 2 of classes. I’d love to open my own business but…until some debt is paid off that isn’t happening.

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I’m confident that people who have practiced good financial management so far can help other people by example. Of course, some people will never learn, but I hope that some people can learn from their mistakes or the mistakes of others.

  7. joescratch says:

    I haven’t had a full-time, permanent job since 2008, and with every passing day it seems less and less likely I’ll ever have one again. Consumer confidence? What’s that?

  8. Consumeristing says:

    I was at the Australian immigration website and while it looks like I have enough points to immigrate there, the visa APPLICATION cost $6,600!

    *On topic because I think many people are in the same boat as I am. America is boned. Sure it’ll still have its moments in the future, but it’s just not the same, like Italy is. Sure Italy is one of the world’s largest economy, but it’s a bit of a come-down from owning territory from Egypt to England. That’s gotta sting. The US is just gonna be a rich-ish extremely crowded country with ever declining quality of life that no amount of money will ever fix.

    • ARP says:

      I have to agree with you. The problem is that there is a fundamental disagreement about why that is. That gridlock will eventually cause the demise of America as the greatest economic superpower. Sure, we’ll stay in the top 3-4, but we’ll become a quasi 3rd world nation with a tiny ruling class, a small middle class and a large lower class. The only difference will be that most other countries have to try to put down class uprisings, protests, etc. Here, due to media manipulation and strong lobbying, the lower classes will be the ones enforcing the status quo (e.g. if we only give the rich even more money, they might give us good paying jobs).

    • Ayanami says:

      I’m in the same boat you are, I’ve recently started looking on a way to get out and it’s not cheap by any means.

  9. ARP says:

    I don’t view this as a contradiction. Those who have jobs are (relatively) more secure since they’re doing the work of 3 people and would have been cut already by now if employers could. That means they’ve probably spent more than in years past.

    However, they recognize the general economy is not good. Even if they wanted to leave their jobs, it would be a long, difficult process to find a comparable or better job.

  10. TooManyHobbies says:

    I’m reasonably confident, but I feel like I’ve had a wake-up call about consumer credit. I’ve been working my ass off for the last few months and will pay off all my credit cards in about a month for the first time in 20 years. Then I’m going to build an emergency fund. THEN I will probably start buying again.

    This is not due to any IMMEDIATE concern about the economy, but rather, a feeling that I should be prepared for future downturns, and also I ran the numbers and realized that I’d spent tens of thousands in interest to credit card companies over the years, and wouldn’t I rather use that money to take a nice vacation instead?

    So it just seemed to me that spending a few months with a tight belt would put me in better shape for the rest of my life, and “no time like the present.”

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Me too. I want to get some debt paid off so I can tackle my student loans, and I really really would like to move. I can’t stand it here any more and it’s worth the money to get away from the terrible weather and lack of culture in this place.

  11. Power Imbalance says:

    My job (mechanical engineer) moved to China back in April. They actually just got rid of my position along with many others hoping the Chinese could do without engineering support.

  12. ChuckECheese says:

    The US has no industrial policy, no educational policy. By ‘policy,’ I mean a systematic design for deciding what and how to produce, and how and whom to train for this production. It’s all catch-as-catch can, a mad scramble. Some fields are too full of workers, others don’t have enough. Corporations have no desire to promote the nation and its people, only their own profit interests. It’s too bad that a political movement can’t shine a light on the inherent traitorousness of offshoring jobs and profits, or the wasted resources and lives that come from relying on our Balkanized economic system.

    • dolemite says:

      But hey…Supreme Court just said corporations can contribute whatever they want to political candidates because they are people too!

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      “The US has no industrial policy, no educational policy”

      Nor any sort of long term planning whatsoever. That’s because we (By “WE” I mean politicians) only plan ahead as far as the next election, 4 or 6 ahead years at most.

    • ARP says:

      Sure we do… get rid of the Department of Education and allow private schools to do what they want. If you’re rich enough, you’ll get a great education. If you’re not, then you can bus tables or work low end retail.

      On the industrial policy side, we should get rid of all regulations, get rid of the minimum wage, etc. and it will be just like they heyday of the Industrial Revolution. I mean the middle class did great, right?

    • Consumeristing says:

      ” By ‘policy,’ I mean a systematic design for deciding what and how to produce”

      You know, some countries have adopted that top-down economic system. For obvious reasons, only one is left.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North%20Korea

      • ChuckECheese says:

        You’re so full of it. Many nations around the world besides Korea have education, technology and production policies that promote industries that raise the national standard of living. We even do it in the U.S., but most of the love goes to extraction industries, farming and the military.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        Speaking of the commies … it has been on my mind for years that our own economy and society increasingly resembles that of our former Soviet bugaboo. We have an entrenched plutocracy that is utterly out of touch with the citizenry, a production/distribution arm that is highly centralized and planned (Walmart and its ilk – extra props for getting the work done by real Chinese Communists!) and gulags for an increasing number of the disenfranchised.

        The saddest thing is that our nation is threatened by a malignant ignorance of history, politics, and sciences, and has no bootstraps to pull itself up by. Our heroes are sagging pants thugs and pneumatic titted celebretards. Nero Burning ROM played Xbox while America burns. And the best you can come up has no depth, reason or soul. Shame on your fingers for heaving so ignorantly upon that keyboard. Please try to come up with something insightful or original – we all depend on it.

  13. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    “Consumers, Why The Lack Of Confidence?”

    Captain Obvious says:
    Do you REALLY NEED TO ASK?

  14. AngryK9 says:

    Well I don’t know. Do you think it could have anything to do with corporate-owned mass media fear-mongers posting sensationalist stories about $5 a gallon gas within a couple of years?

    http://money.cnn.com/2010/12/27/markets/oil_commodities/index.htm

  15. CrankyOwl says:

    My company’s contract to provide services to our client expires Dec. 31. The client put the contract out to bid but apparently we were the only one to actually submit a bid. So we’re hoping we’ll all have jobs & the contract gets extended for another 3 years.

  16. Mom says:

    Unlike most others, everyone I know who wants to work is working. That would be a good thing, except that most, including me, are making less than they did five years ago, and are suffering through a lot of corporate “takeaways”. Reductions in health insurance, pensions, tuition reimbursement, overtime pay, etc. Pretty much everything is cut back.

    Not surprisingly, that doesn’t lead to confidence.

    • dolemite says:

      I believe in the past 3 years, we’ve gotten one 1.5% pay increase. Which is more than some people have gotten, but in the meantime:

      Health insurance has gone up about 10% per year.
      Our 401K matching was cut from 5% matching to 3% matching (which negates the 1.5% and then some).

      Nevermind the fact just about every major bill has gone up about 5-10% per year (cable, gas, electricity, etc.).

      Add to that the fact we are working about 12% longer hours for that 1.5% pay increase and…

  17. veritybrown says:

    Unfortunately, it hasn’t been as easy for the media to “fix” the economy by saying, “Hey, the recession is over!” as it was for them to damage the economy in 2008 by saying (gleefully), “Hey, the economy sucks!” I don’t know anyone who is doing well financially; most of my friends are just barely hanging on, feeling lucky that they still have jobs (if they do). The husband of one friend is a self-employed optometrist, and he’s had to cut staff; his wife (my friend) has been taking on more and more jobs around his office. My husband is almost the last person left in his department, and his employer’s business has been teetering on the verge of going under for the past year. Since this business is highly dependent on the ability of wealthy people to spend lots of money repairing their parenting failures, I would say that its success a pretty good gauge of how well the economy is doing. Sorry, but in my neck of the woods and within my social circles, the “end of the recession” is nothing more than a media fairy tale.

    • ARP says:

      Well if you look at the retail data, high end retail is doing very well. Meaning people with a lot of money are still spending, because they’re the only ones left with money. That may bode well for you.

      Of course, to prove Reganomics is wrong, they’re not spending enough to substantially lift the economy. That trickle is more like an ocassional drip.

      • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

        IMHO it’s more of a Hoover than a trickle, sucking money out of the economy and into offshore accounts and tax shelters. The rich didn’t get there by spending money, they got there by figuring out ways to NOT spend it.

        Reaganomics was a scam to benefit the rich at the expense of the working poor when it was introduced, and remains so to this day. It doesn’t work; the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. This is, of course, Just Fine if you’re rich, and since the rich run the country, it’s not going to go away like it needs to.

  18. DeadFlorist says:

    Deeper recessions means longer routes out of the hole, and this one was journey-to-the-center-of-the-earth deep. Of course, if we can’t pop out and be back at pre-recession employment eight months after bottom like we could in the good old days, people start running out of money, unemployment benefits, and hope. Hence, plunging consumer confidence. You think talk of a mythical recovery you can’t see is annoying now, just wait a few years: http://www.zerohedge.com/article/projecting-jobs-chart

  19. Thorzdad says:

    Definitely jobs.
    Unfortunately, I think a lot of people are starting to feel that this level of unemployment/under-employment is going to be a normal part of life in the US for the foreseeable future. I’m definitely seeing a scary level of resignation among people. Add to this the lack of health benefits that come with un/under-employment, and the lack of confidence is quite understandable.

  20. Scamazon says:

    Seriously, the big banks are teetering on the brink of going under again, jobs never returned, food prices are up and so is gas. What I’d like to know is how much consumer debt went up compared to overall spending. I know some people who are going for broke because they just don’t care…

    When did Christmas become all about consumerism and less about family?

  21. jesusofcool says:

    I’m lucky in that I have a full-time job I like that I feel reasonably secure in, I’m young and I have few responsibilities. But that doesn’t mean I’m confident.
    The reason why I’m secure in my job at the moment isn’t because I do well, it’s because I do well, I’m willing to work long hours and I am young and have limited responsibilities so they can pay me as such. At the moment, I’m ok with the pay and the fact that 50 is the new 40 hours a week but what happens when I can’t swing it anymore? I’m surviving on a cheap rental, a beat up used car, and beat up used things. I know I’ll want to make some major purchases over the next ten years and go back to grad school and I’m not sure I’ll ever have enough saved to afford any of it.

  22. James says:

    Confidence? Gotta be kidding me.

    The wife lost her job just before the crap hit the fan, and my income was all that was coming in. Took her months to find another job. When she did it was in another state.

    That meant I had to _LEAVE_ a job to move. Moving, selling a house, and now I’m still looking for a new job after several months.

    Yeah, lots of confidence in this economy. I’ll start to be confident again when I can choose between a couple of offers, again.

    James

  23. gman863 says:

    Why the lack of consumer confidence?

    That question is on par with “Other than that Mrs. Kennedy, how was your trip to Dallas?”

  24. spark says:

    Oh sure holiday spending is up. But do you really think that any of those companies are going to take the increased income and hire more people with it? Really? Of course not! They’re going to continue to cut corners, outsource jobs, cut salaries, lay off employees, and give their stockholders and CEO all the increased dividends. That’s the way business works these days. Until that changes, my confidence is going to be pretty much nil.

  25. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Hmmmm, maybe it’s because of the inevitable double dip in housing, high unemployment (which is not being calculated realistically with so many people who have given up looking for jobs), and rising gas prices. I am still hearing about people I know getting laid off. Big companies are outsourcing jobs. Even when companies do better, they are deciding that they can still pull the “You are lucky to have a job” card and have one person doing the work of 3.

    The economy still sucks, hence the low confidence.

  26. FrugalFreak says:

    No return of jobs. American Companies don’t want to invest in American workers, Why should we give them our money?